Exposé Online banner

Birdsongs of the Mesozoic — Petrophonics
(Cuneiform Rune 179, 2000, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2001-03-01

Petrophonics Cover artEver since I first heard this band back in the early 80s, I’ve been fascinated by their style: rock instrumentation playing challenging music which is not based in the conventions of rock and roll, sort of like what Stravinsky would do with a drum kit, electric guitar, and electronic organ. In fact they covered part of Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” on an early album. Over the decades, the band has expanded their scope to touch on rock styles (like the spy-theme guitar on this disc’s title track) and experienced some personnel changes, but the basic esthetic has not changed. Pianist Erik Lindgren is still the dominant player (and majority composer), but Birdsongs would not be Birdsongs without the other players. Ken Field’s saxophones provide both melody and edge; Michael Bierylo’s guitar is by turns melodic and sound effect; Rick Scott’s contributions on synthesizer and “sound design” are a little hard to but a finger on, but essential none the less, comprising (I suppose) all the non-piano keyboard parts. In spite of the lack of a permanent drummer, rhythm parts are an integral part of the band’s sound, from the driving drum machine of “Petrophonics” to the atmospheric noises of “Study of Unintended Consequences” to the massed pounding toms of “The Insidious Revenge of Ultima Thule, Part One.” The main thing that sets this release apart from the other Birdsongs albums is an attention to ambiance. Even in the faster tunes, there is a fullness to the sound and incredible richness of detail I don’t hear in previous efforts, fine as they were. Listen to Petrophincs closely and a multitude of great little touches will become apparent. This is a sure bet for the top of my year’s best list, and I could easily go on much longer about its wonders.

Filed under: New releases, Issue 21, 2000 releases

Related artist(s): Birdsongs of the Mesozoic, Ken Field

Latest news

2017-05-19
First ProgStock Festival Set for October – October 2017 will see the inaugural edition of a festival called ProgStock in Rahway, New Jersey at the Union County Performing Arts Center. With a definite slant towards neo-progressive music, the event is sure to please many fans with the inclusion of such artists as Echolyn, Glass Hammer, and Aisles. The festival will take place October 13-15. » Read more

2017-05-05
Clive Brooks RIP – Word reaches us today of another sad passing in the music world. Drummer Clive Brooks, best known as a member of such Canterbury bands as Egg, Uriel / Arzachel, and Groundhogs, has died at the age of 67. Details are sketchy at this point. The news was reported on Nick Mason's Facebook page — Brooks was Mason's drum tech. » Read more

2017-05-02
Col. Bruce Hampton RIP – The phrase "He died doing what he loved" is almost a cliche, but in the case of Col. Bruce Hampton, it couldn't be more true. Hampton, who was born Gustav Berglund III, collapsed on stage at his own 70th birthday celebration and later passed away. The event took place at the Fox Theater in Atlanta. » Read more

2017-04-16
ProgDay 2017 Announces First Bands – Flor de Loto, Sonar, and Infinien are the first three performers to be announced for the 2017 edition of the long-running ProgDay Festival. The 23rd ProgDay takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 2nd and 3rd, at Storybook Farm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. » Read more

2017-04-16
Allan Holdsworth RIP – Surely in the list of artists who have contributed to the sound of modern music, there is a special spot for guitarist Allan Holdsworth. His name is known to virtually every student of the instrument in jazz and rock, and his style has been so widely emulated that it's hardly worth mentioning anymore — we can just assume that every guitarist has Holdsworth as an influence. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Haakon Ellingsen - Bounty – Many many years ago (in issue #12 to be precise) we reviewed a wonderful and heavily Beatles influenced psychedelic pop album titled Kindergarten by Norwegian trio The Last James. Haakon Ellingsen...  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues